Auto IQ News: Toyota ramps up EV plans, Micromobility movements, Amazon drones, and a tire that can’t go flat
It’s been a busy week for breaking news that’s likely to shape the future of the automotive industry.
While much has been made of FCA and Renault’s failed merger, we’ve had our eye on confirmation of Toyota’s long-awaited global electric vehicle strategy. There’s also been a host of developments in the field of micromobility centring on US-based firm Bird, footage released of Amazon’s delivery drone coming to a sky near you soon, plus GM and Michelin’s tire that can’t be punctured. Take a look:
Toyota ramps up EV strategy
In a presentation delivered by Toyota Motor Co’s executive vice president, Shigeki Terashi, on June 7, we got a significant update on how Toyota plans to become a leading player in the electric vehicle market. This included bringing forward plans to sell 5.5 million EVs worldwide by 2025 – five years earlier than its original goal stated back in December 2017, the year it revealed its 'walking area BEVs' seen in the video above.
Terashi also confirmed Toyota’s plan to debut a solid-state EV battery at next year’s Tokyo Olympics – the event has a tradition of being used as a showcase for Japanese innovation, with the 1964 event coinciding with the first Shinkansen bullet train service being introduced.
Toyota will also begin selling an urban EV in Japan next year, while continuing to develop its forthcoming electric Toyota New Global Architecture (e-TNGA) platform. It will underpin six new Toyota models – a small car co-developed with Suzuki and Daihatsu, and five C- and D-segment models including sedans, SUVs and minivans. Toyota has already confirmed that it has partnered with Subaru to develop the platform, and the first model from both brands will be a C-segment BEV SUV. As long as Toyota can source the batteries…
Cangoroo – the micromobility pogo stick. For real?
Because unicycles are so five years ago, Swedish start-up Cangoroo is planning to offer pogo sticks, rentable by the minute, as the latest micromobility solution to hit the streets. Is it for real? We’re not sure, but this interview with the company’s founder, Adam Mikkelsen, who also happens to own ad agency ODD Company, seems to confirm it’s legit.
On the subject of last-mile solutions, Santa Monica’s favourite dockless scooter rental firm Bird has been busy launching a two-seater electric bike. Called the Bird Cruiser, the bike is powered by a 52V battery and has been designed to go where its scooters can’t. Like up hills.
Bird has also been tipped to make its first big acquisition – Scoot, a firm offering scooter and e-bike rentals in San Francisco, Santiago in Chile and Barcelona, Spain. As a more mature player in the market, Bird is quietly consolidating its position in a bid to become more sustainable. Are some micromobility solutions beginning to come of age?
Amazon debuts its delivery drone
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope, it’s an Amazon drone about to drop off your latest impulse purchase. It’s latest Prime Air delivery drone was unveiled at Re:MARS conference in Las Vegas. According to Amazon, the drone can travel up to 15 miles and deliver packages under 2.25kg in less than 30 minutes and will begin service “within months” in the US.
The firm also promises that the drone features a host of safety features, not least proprietary computer-vision and machine learning algorithms to enable it to take-off, fly and land without literally clotheslining itself in your back yard.
GM and Michelin test the new, improved Tweel
Back in 2012, Michelin commercialised its Tweel technology. A cunning combination of tire and wheel – hence the name – the Tweel aimed to offer better eco credentials, ride and safety when compared to a conventional wheel/tire combo. However, while you can buy Tweels for ATVs and golf carts, a full automotive application hasn’t been forthcoming.
That is until now. Step forward GM, who has agreed to co-develop a new generation of airless wheel technology using a fleet of Chevrolet Bolt EVs. It’s called Uptis (Unique Puncture-proof Tire System), and GM plans to introduce it on passenger vehicles by 2024. If that’s not Tweely good news, then we don’t know what is…